Vega Launch Success – Satellite Signals Heard

Lift off of Vega

Lift off of Vega - Image Credit ESA

The first Vega, flight VV01, lifted off at 1000 UT Monday, February 13 from the ESA Spaceport at Kourou in the Caribbean carrying eight student built amateur radio satellites and the LARES Laser Relativity Satellite into orbit.

LARES was put into a 1435 by 1452 km 69.5 degree inclination orbit, while the orbit of the amateur radio satellites is 310 by 1441 km.

At 1153 UT Drew Glasbrenner KO4MA reported hearing signals from the satellites as they went past Florida. Signals were first heard in the United Kingdom at around 1207 UT.

In Germany Mike Repprecht DK3WN copied the satellites at an elevation of just 3 degress at 1209 UT, see http://www.dk3wn.info/p/?cat=83

A recording of PW-Sat made by Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG at 1207 UT can be heard at http://www.pa3weg.nl/pa3weg/recordings/PW-SAT%20recording%20PA3WEG%2013-02-2012_1207UTC.mp3

In the Czech Republic Mirek Kasal OK2AQ received strong signals from Masat-1 http://www.urel.feec.vutbr.cz/esl/files/Othact/masat1_rev5.wav

Nittin Muttin VU3TYG received PW-Sat at 1246 UT as it travelled over India, his recording is at http://vu3tyg.addr.com/pwsat/pw_sat-%20Feb%2013th.mp3

In Sudan Nader ST2NH received signals from AlmaSat-1 and Masat-1.

KO4MA Screenshot of Vega CubeSats

KO4MA Screenshot of Vega CubeSats

As of Monday evening signals had been reported from AlmaSat-1, Goliat, Masat-1, PW-Sat, UniCubeSat and XaTcobeo.

All the Vega amateur radio satellite project teams used the IARU amateur satellite frequency coordination panel service. A benefit of IARU coordination was that all the different UHF satellite signals could be simultaneously captured within the typical 192 kHz bandwidth of a modern Software Defined Radio (SDR).

PW-Sat is the only satellite with a downlink in the 145 MHz band. Its 1200bps BPSK signal on 145.900 MHz is receiveable with an SSB radio and an omni-directional antenna.

When PW-Sat has finished its primary scientific mission it will be reconfigured as a 435/145 MHz FM to DSB transponder for general amateur radio communications. The FM to Double Sideband transponder was first pioneered by amateurs on the satellite AO-16.

PW-Sat carries a deployable drag augmentation device known as the tail. The main objective of this experiment is to test the concept of using atmospheric drag to deorbit the satellite. It is hoped to be able to remove the satellite from orbit at a predicted time, about one year after launch.

The other amateur radio satellites have downlinks in 437 MHz. A small 430 MHz  band Yagi antenna may be used to receive the signals. They are expected to have a lifetime of 3-4 years depending on the atmospheric drag which is higher at sunspot maximum.

Watch the launch of Vega VV01

The Masat-1 satellite team have made available software to decode their 437.345 MHz telemetry data via a PC sound card. The software can be downloaded from http://cubesat.bme.hu/en/foldi-allomas/kliens-szoftver/

This video shows the eliptical 310 by 1441 km orbit of the satellites.

The prelimary TLEs, used by tracking software to predict the orbits, were generated by a team lead by Paolo Tortora at the University of Bologna in Italy. They proved to be accurate with the satellites appearing at the expected time.

Student amateur radio satellite downlink frequencies:
(Worst case Doppler shift during pass +/-9 kHz at 437 MHz and +/- 3 kHz at 145 MHz)
+ AlmaSat-1   437.465 MHz 1200 bps FSK, 2407.850 MHz
+ E-St@r        437.445 MHz 1200 bps AFSK
+ Goliat          437.485 MHz 1200 bpx AFSK
+ Masat-1      437.345 MHz 625/1250 bps GFSK, CW
+ PW-Sat       145.900 MHz 1200 bps BPSK AX25, CW
+ Robusta      437.325 MHz? (website says now 437.350 MHz) 1200 bps FM telemetry – one data burst of 20 secs every 1 min
+ UniCubeSat 437.305 MHz 9600 bps FSK
+ XaTcobeo     437.365 MHz FFSK with AX.25

Satscape Free Satellite Tracking Software http://www.satscape.info/home/?q=node/2 

Preliminary Vega TLE’s for launch at 1000 UT here

Website URLs for the student satellite are at http://www.uk.amsat.org/4180

ESA report Student CubeSats start talking to Earth

IARU Amateur Satellite Frequency Coordination Panel hosted by AMSAT-UK http://www.amsat.org.uk/iaru/

Solving the TLE lottery

TLEsWhen amateur radio satellites are initially deployed Two Line Elements (TLE) Keplerian orbital data sets for tracking the satellites are released by NORAD. Unfortunately they are only given object identifiers of A, B, C, D etc not satellite names. Some of the debris from the launch and deployment may also be given alphabetic identifiers. The problem is working out which of the 10 or more objects is the satellite you want to listen to.

Mike DK3WN has developed a simple solution to this perennial problem by using an SDR-IQ receiver and a bit of software.

In the case of Masat-1 he chose a high elevation pass (89 deg) where the doppler shift should be significant and recorded the complete pass with his SDR-IQ without doppler correction. With some software he simulated the entire pass with different TLE’s.

He then chose the TLE that best matched the doppler shift of the audio signal.

Read Mike’s full article with pictures on his website at http://www.dk3wn.info/p/?p=26038

Student Satellite Launch To Be Broadcast Live

Artists impression of Vega launch

Artists impression of Vega launch

The launch of eight student amateur radio satellites from the space center at Kourou in the Caribbean will be broadcast live on the Internet.

The launch should take place between 1000-1300 UT on Monday, February 13 and you’ll be able to watch it at http://www.videocorner.tv/

The student teams have requested reception reports. During the Launch and Early Operations Phase (LEOP) Monday, listeners are encouraged to gather at the IRC “cubesat” channel to exchange all the latest available information. Simply point your browser to http://webchat.freenode.net/ and join the #cubesat channel. In the Nickname: field enter “name_callsign” and in the Channels: field enter #cubesat

Preliminary Vega TLE’s for launch at 1000, 1100 or 1200 UT here

Assuming a 1000 UT launch the satellites should deploy their antennas and start transmitting at about 1140 UT. It looks like the first to get reception will be Central America followed quickly by a pass up the East coast of North America. The first pass for the United Kingdom should be a horizon skimmer across the NW at around 1207 UT.

Student amateur radio satellite downlink frequencies:
+ AlmaSat-1   437.465 MHz 1200 bps FSK, 2407.850 MHz
+ E-St@r        437.445 MHz 1200 bps AFSK
+ Goliat          437.485 MHz 1200 bpx AFSK
+ Masat-1      437.345 MHz 625/1250 bps GFSK, CW
+ PW-Sat       145.900 MHz 1200 bps BPSK AX25, CW
+ Robusta      437.325 MHz 1200 bps FM telemetry – one data burst of 20 secs every 1 min
+ UniCubeSat 437.305 MHz 9600 bps FSK
+ XaTcobeo     437.365 MHz FFSK with AX.25

Masat-1 telemetry decode software http://www.uk.amsat.org/4385

URLs for the student satellite websites are at http://www.uk.amsat.org/4180

Vega Elliptical Orbit Video http://www.uk.amsat.org/4119

Satscape Free Satellite Tracking Software http://www.satscape.info/home/?q=node/2 

N2YO Real Time Satellite Tracking http://www.n2yo.com/

CubeSats on the Vega qualification flight

In this video Roger Walker, Head of education projects unit, ESA, talks about the CubeSats that will be on the first launch of the Vega rocket, planned to take place between 10:00 and 12:00 UT on Monday, February 13.

The video shows the integration of the CubeSats in the P-POD deployment system and includes some interviews with ESA’s experts and European students involved in the programme. Over 250 students were involved in the development of the seven amateur radio CubeSats.

Watch CubeSats on the Vega qualification flight

Frequencies and URLs for the student amateur radio satellites on Vega can be seen at http://www.uk.amsat.org/4180

Video about the Vega satellites

The first qualification Vega flight from the space center at Kourou in the Caribbean is scheduled to take place on February 13 and a video showing the payloads is now available.

Watch Arianespace

Frequencies and URLs for the student amateur radio satellites can be seen at http://www.uk.amsat.org/4180

Hungarian Students Request Reports of Telemetry Data

Masat-1 CubeSat

Masat-1 CubeSat

Andras Gschwindt HA5WH is requesting Radio Amateurs to send reports of telemetry data from the Hungarian student satellite Masat-1 due to be launched on February 13.

Andras HA5WH, head of the student group that made the first Hungarian CubeSat, Masat-1, says:

Masat-1 is a 1U cubesat and its basic mission is a technological experiment. You can find more on our web site: http://cubesat.bme.hu/en/ 

Masat-1 is onboard the Vega rocket which we hope will launch on February 13. My students at The Technical University of  Budapest, are in need of telemetry data especially in the first one to two weeks after launch.

I would like to ask you to help us with the reception of our satellite by sending the received data back to us.

You can load the decoder software from our page but the most important would be the reception of the voltage and temperature from the CW data.

The call sign of Masat-1 is HA5MASAT and the telemetry transmission frequency is  437.345 MHz +/- 10 kHz Doppler shift. (the signal will start at 437.355 MHz and drift down to 437.335 MHz during a 10-15 minute orbital pass)

Watch the Masat-1 Eliptical Orbit video

The Masat-1 Ground Station Client Software was prepared to process the 437.345 MHz GFSK 625/1250 bps transmission received from the satellite Masat-1. The software provides the following functions:

– Audio demodulation
– Packet decoding
– Packet data visualization
– Frequency waterfall plot to aid radio tuning

Download the software and a test WAV file from http://cubesat.bme.hu/en/foldi-allomas/kliens-szoftver/

Some of the Masat-1 Team

Some of the Masat-1 Team

Further information on Masat-1 is at http://www.uk.amsat.org/4249

For frequencies and URL links of the eight student built amateur radio satellites on Vega see http://www.uk.amsat.org/4180